How to buy union this holiday season

SantaPlan to do any holiday shopping this year? If you buy union-made, you’re helping keep good jobs in the community, and voting with your dollars for enterprises that pay your fellow workers a living wage with benefits. Of course, union-made gifts aren’t easy to find. Here are a few ideas to make it easier.

Union blankets: Keep your loved ones cozy in the cold winter months with a blanket from Pendleton Woolen Mills. Pendleton blankets (but not apparel) are made in Washougal, Washington, and Pendleton, Oregon, by members of the Workers United union. That means they earn wages of $15.42 to $17.73 an hour, with overtime after eight hours, plus health and pension benefits.

Union boots: Danner, maker of stylish and indestructible boots, may be a subsidiary of Japanese shoe company ABC-Mart now, but the company’s retail profile is expanding, with high-end show rooms like the one at Union Way on 1022 W Burnside St., Portland, or Tanasbourne Town Center. Check the label: If the boots are U.S.-made, they were made by members of UFCW Local 555 in Portland.

Union books: Why would you ever go to nonunion Amazon? Buying books (and gifts) at Powells supports about 450 Portland-area members of ILWU Local 5, from cashiers to truck drivers to computer programmers. That means wages that average $14.39 an hour, and health benefits for full-time employees. And if you use Local 5’s online portal, 7.5 percent of your purchase goes toward the union strike fund!

Union culture: Oregon Ballet Theater, the Portland Opera, the Oregon Symphony … even traveling Broadway shows like the Book of Mormon, which opens in Portland Jan. 12: All of them employ members of American Federation of Musicians Local 99, and some also employ members of IATSE Local 28 as stagehands and ushers. The biggest employer of union musicians is the Oregon Symphony, with 76 full-timers. Session players earn $200 per two-hour appearance, plus pension and healthcare contributions.

Union retail: What’s on your list today? When you buy your holiday gifts at Fred Meyer, Portland’s only unionized general retailer, the money you spend will employ members of UFCW Local 555 (and Bakers Local 114, at Fred Meyer bakery departments). Or keep it simple and get a Fred Meyer gift card.

Union chocolate: Ghirardelli chocolates and See’s Candies gift boxes are made in California by members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers.

Union wine: Unions may be rare in the wine industry, but happily, Washington’s award-winning Chateau Ste. Michelle is an exception. It employs members of United Farm Workers in its vineyards, and members of Teamsters Local 117 in the barrel room, warehouse, production, shipping and maintenance departments at its Woodinville facility. Company labels include Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle wines, Domaine Ste. Michelle, and Snoqualmie, among others.

Union cannabis: Another idea for the 21-and-over crowd: Celebrate Oregon’s legalization with a gift of union-made, union-retailed cannabis. Hi Casual Cannabis,  7827 SE Powell Blvd, Portland; and West Salem Cannabis, 2625 Salem Dallas Hwy NW, Salem, employ members of UFCW Local 555 at wages that start at $15 an hour, plus benefits.

Union kitchenware: Foreign imports may fill the shelves, but union-made in America is still a mark of quality for several brands. U.S.-made Pyrex glassware and All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware are made by United Steelworkers members in Pennsylvania. Cutco cutlery are made by union Steelworkers in New York. And U.S.-made Fiesta brand dinnerware is made in West Virginia by members of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastic and Allied Workers union.

Union inspiration: The union gospel needs to reach more doorsteps. Do you have friends and family who don’t get the Northwest Labor Press? Not only is it the only local publication that focuses on news for workers; it also  employs members of Office and Professional Employees Local 11. Gift subscriptions are $13.75 a year (for union members, $20 for others) for 24 issues — by credit card online here or by check to P.O. Box 13150, Portland, OR 97213.

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